By: Todd Shields

Wheelchair User Wrote Critical Column

by Todd Shields

For Chad Swiatecki, a Flint (Mich.) Journal reporter who is four
months out of college, covering a campaign stop by Al Gore promised
a break from the routine of small-town coverage. But then the
22-year-old, a wheelchair user, found himself excluded from one
of the candidate’s appearances when press-pool vans could not
accommodate him, and Gore aides said he could not join the
motorcade in his own car.

Swiatecki wrote about his experience in a Sept. 5 column for the 93,166-circulation daily. ‘They say the squeaky wheel is the one
that gets the grease,” Swiatecki wrote. ‘Well, Al, I’ve got four
of them. Can you hear them yet?”

Reaction from readers was remarkable, including more than 700
e-mail messages, and he even was a guest on National Public Radio’s
‘All Things Considered.’

Finally the vice president himself called. Gore thanked him for
writing the column, saying it had pointed out a shortcoming that
would be corrected. Swiatecki quoted Gore as saying, ‘You’re part
of a generation that’s not going to take crap from people, and
shouldn’t have to.”

The heavy reaction, Swiatecki told E&P, ‘has been a bit overwhelming.’


Todd Shields (tshields@editorandpublisher.com) is the Washington
editor for E&P.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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